Osborne Group – which, started in 1772, touts itself as one of the oldest family-run businesses in the world – sells a range of spirits in addition to wine, including brandy, gin and anisette, as well as Iberian ham.
Osborne Group last year had launched a Tmall store specifically for its Cinco Jotas 5J Iberian ham. The ham is made from a special breed of pig native to the mountain meadows of Central and Southern Spain. The acorns the pigs feed on give the cured meat a nutty flavor that has earned high praise – and high prices – from chefs around the globe.
But the company now is expanding the selection of products available to Chinese consumers by opening a separate Tmall flagship store for the Group to highlight its wine and spirits brands. The new store will give the more than 570 million shoppers using Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms access to Osborne’s Montecillo Rioja wine, Solaz Castilla wine and Carlos I Sherry brandy, among others.
“A very recognizable brand and icon in Western markets, Osborne and its wines and spirits brands face the challenge of reaching the Chinese consumer to share our history and values,” said Jose Ignacio Iñiguez Saenz, Osborne country manager for Greater China.
“Tmall represents the best possible platform to accomplish this aim, providing the market place in which our brands can communicate directly with consumers the passion we feel for our products.”
Spain is the world’s leading exporter of wine, shipping 22.8 million hectoliters of wine last year. That put the country ahead of Italy and France, which exported 21 million hectoliters and 15 million hectoliters, respectively. However, France is the leading exporter to China when it comes to wine, and by a significant margin. Figures from the Chinese government show Spain ranked fourth behind also Australia and Chile, respectively, in the same period.
But the country has surged in 2018, seeing its export volumes jump 48% year-on-year, to overtake Chile as the number three wine exporter to China, said Rodrigo Cipriani Foresio, managing director of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece for Alibaba Group. The increase is a positive signal for Osborne, he said.
“We believe there are plenty of opportunities for Spanish companies and the collaboration with an historic brand like Osborne aims at further educating Chinese consumers on our platforms on the variety and quality of Spanish flavor and cuisine, bringing the authentic ‘Spain taste and lifestyle’ to Chinese households,” said Foresio, who also serves as general manager of Europe Tmall Business Development.
Spain exported $7.1 billion in goods to China in 2017, making China its 10th most-valuable export market, according to United Nations Comtrade data. France received the most Spanish goods, totaling $46.96 billion. Meats, such as Iberian ham, accounted for $576.9 million of that figure.
Osborne Group is the latest Spanish brand to sell to China via Tmall. Inditex’s entire portfolio of brands, including Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius, Oysho and Uterqüe, have official stores on the platform. In addition, Spanish derma-cosmetics companies MartiDerm, Sesderm and ISDIN are selling through dedicated cross-border e-commerce site Tmall Global. Special government regulations in China allow brands in certain categories to export products to China, without those brands having a license to set up physical stores in the country.